Editor’s note: StartingBloc, a nonprofit focused on helping entrepreneurs and business leaders build companies with social impact, recently moved its headquarters to Raleigh under the leadership of Kristine Sloan, a native of the Capital City. Writer Mindy Hamlin recently interviewed her for WRAL TechWire.

Kristen Sloan

RALEIGH – Kristine Sloan knew at an early age what she wanted to do with her life. After watching a commercial on the AIDS epidemic in Africa, she knew she wanted to work on the continent. This decision would lead her on a career path that took her from her home city of Raleigh to Africa and back again.

The 29-year old Sloan grew up in Raleigh and attended Enloe High School before becoming a Hamilton Scholar at N.C. State University where she studied economics and international studies, with an emphasis on Africa.

“I am one of the few who went to college with a strong sense of what I wanted to do,” said Sloan.

As a Hamilton Scholar, she had the opportunity to travel to Ghana when she was 19. This experience had an impact that would drive her career.

“What I took away was that people have such tremendous capacity and can do what they need but the impact of international systems can disempower them,” said Sloan.

After graduation, she worked in India and Africa, learning the importance of leadership as she helped guide community-based organizations.

“You can build a company that has impact, but if no one is addressing leadership and the organizational structure, it will fail because leadership is what matters at the end of the day,” said Sloan. “This is our focus at StartingBloc.”

Changing the leadership role

When Sloan returned to the States, she learned about StartingBloc, a nonprofit organization that had turned its focus to social impact.

Founded by two Illinois college students in 2003, the organization recently announced its move from its headquarters in Colorado to Raleigh.

Sloan was the impetus behind the organization’s move. At the time she took on the role of CEO in 2017, she also decided to return to her hometown, which she sees as the perfect location to put Startingbloc’s strategies and values into action.

“Boulder is a progressive bubble,” she said. “Everyone agreed with each other. I know and understand Raleigh the best. Here, the battleground of ideas really matters.”

According to Sloan, Raleigh is at a turning point where it is deciding what it wants to be. For this conversation to be effective, the narrative put forth by current and future leaders is important.

“The narrative is important for getting people to be willing to show up and contribute and convene with others,” said Sloan. “Who North Carolina is and who it is becoming is not clear or set in stone. There is an opportunity to co-create and shape that narrative moving forward and that is an incredible opportunity.”

Looking to the future

Sloan’s goals for the organization include building a stronger donor base, as well as an investment fund for early stage organizations fellows have founded. She also wants to expand StartingBloc’s signature institute’s outside of the U.S. and leverage the relationships the organization has built with its facilitator collective, which help create a vision for the future of leadership.

“What is the future of work is being crystallized, but leadership is not,” said Sloan. “We want to crystallize that with the partners we have been working with.